We've previously covered 3 free to geolocate any user. Today there's another option, with Quova offering its service for free for the first time. The simple API provides extensive geographic information with only a user's IP address (like 188.8.131.52) as input. The service was announced, along with a developer portal, at the Business of APIs conference in San Francisco.
"Quova has had an API available for our customers for a long time and we wanted to open that up to a wider audience," Perry Tancredi, Senior Director of Product Management, said. "Developers can just copy and paste into their application and get going."
Quova's current customer's include Major League Baseball (MLB) and the BBC, among others. According to Tancredi, the company receives many inquiries every day. By providing an API, the company allows anyone to try out its service without needing to contact the sales team, so long as it meets the requirements: non-commercial use and fewer than 1,000 lookups per day. The new Quova developer portal lets anyone sign up for a key, access documentation and explore sample code.
GeoPosty is a WordPress plugin built on top of Quova. It allows everyone with a WordPress blog to be able to "localize" their sites. Tancredi hopes developers will combine the company's geolocation service with other APIs, such as business listings or visualization platforms like GeoIQ.
IP geolocation, of course, has been around for some time. And the discussion often comes down to the accuracy of the result. Most providers can usually get city level data in most countries. Quova provides a confidence factor along with each response, to gauge how accurate it believes the data is. No IP geolocation will likely ever be as accurate as some other active methods, such as GPS. But the beauty of using an IP address is that one does not need to ask the user's permission find their location.
One of the early proponents of the technology was Sanjay Parekh, who sold his Quova competitor Digital Envoy in 2007. "It's fine and great to have some fancy algorithm telling you how accurate or inaccurate the data is but more important is to have accurate data in the first place," Parekh said.
Parekh and Tancredi agree on how to determine who has the most accurate data: test it on your system. For example, MLB uses Quova to determine whether a user is within a team's blackout zone and cannot watch the game online. Tancredi said MLB found that it received fewer user complaints when using Quova, meaning there may have been fewer times that the accuracy excluded someone incorrectly.
"Benchmark or do A/B testing against two systems," Parekh said. "See if there is an increase in expected user behavior and if so, which system provided the higher increase."